Abingdon and Newbury, but are now held entirely at Reading.
At the time of the Domesday survey the chief lay-proprietor was Henry de Ferrers, ancestor of the earls of Derby, but it is remarkable that none of the great Berkshire estates has remained with the same family long. Thomas Fuller quaintly observes that “the lands of Berkshire are very skittish and apt to cast their owners.” The De la Poles succeeded to large estates by a marriage with the heiress of Thomas Chaucer, son of the poet, but the family became extinct in the male line, and the estates were alienated. The same fate befell the estates of the Achards, the Fitzwarrens and later the families of Norris and Befils.
The natural advantages of this county have always encouraged agricultural rather than commercial pursuits. The soil is especially adapted for sheep-farming, and numerous documents testify to the importance and prosperity of the wool-trade in the 12th century. At first this trade was confined to the export of the raw material, but the reign of Edward III. saw the introduction of the clothing industry, for which the county afterwards became famous. This trade began to decline in the 17th century, and in 1641 the Berkshire clothiers complained of the deadness of their trade and the difficulty of getting ready money, attributing the same to delay in the execution of justice. The malting industry and the timber trade also flourished in the county until the 19th century. Agriculturally considered, the Vale of the White Horse is especially productive, and Camden speaks of the great crops of barley grown in the district.
Owing to its proximity to London, Berkshire has from early times been the scene of frequent military operations. The earliest recorded historical fact relating to the county is the occupation of the district between Wallingford and Ashbury by Offa in 758. In the 9th and 10th centuries the county was greatly impoverished by the ravages of the Danes, and in 871 the invaders were defeated by Æthelwulf at Englefield and again at Reading. During the disorders of Stephen’s reign Wallingford was garrisoned for Matilda and was the scene of the final treaty in 1153. Meetings took place between John and his barons in 1213 at Wallingford and at Reading, and in 1216 Windsor was besieged by the barons. At the opening of the civil war of the 17th century, the sheriff, on behalf of the inhabitants of Berkshire, petitioned that the county might be put in a posture of defence, and here the royalists had some of their strongest garrisons. Reading endured a ten days’ siege by the parliamentary forces in 1643, and Wallingford did not surrender until 1646. Newbury was the site of two battles in 1643 and 1644.
In 1295, Berkshire returned two members to parliament for the county and two for the borough of Reading. Later the boroughs of Newbury, Wallingford, Windsor and Abingdon secured representation, and from 1557 until the Reform Act of 1832 the county was represented by a total of ten members. By this act Abingdon and Wallingford were each deprived of a member, but the county returned three members instead of two. Since the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 the county has returned three members for three divisions, and Windsor and Reading return one member each, the remaining boroughs having lost representation.
Antiquities.—The remains of two great Benedictine monasteries at Abingdon and Reading are scanty. The ecclesiastical architecture of the county is not remarkable, excepting a few individual churches. Thus for Norman work the churches of Shellingford and Cholsey may be noted, together with the very small chapel, of early date, at Upton near Didcot. The church of Blewbury in the same locality is in the main transitional Norman, and retains some of its original vaulting. Of Early English churches there are several good examples, notably at Uffington, with its unusual angular-headed windows, Buckland near Faringdon, and Wantage. The tower of St Helen’s, Abingdon, well illustrates this period. The cruciform church of Shottesbrooke, with its central spire, is a beautiful and almost unaltered Decorated building; and St George’s chapel in Windsor Castle is a superb specimen of Perpendicular work. Apart from Windsor, Berkshire retains no remarkable medieval castles or mansions.
Authorities.—Chief of the older works are: Elias Ashmole. Antiquities of Berkshire (3 vols., 1719, 2nd ed., London, 1723; 3rd ed., Reading, 1736); D. and S. Lysons, Magna Britannia, vol. i. Other works are: Marshall, Topographical and Statistical Details of the County of Berkshire (London, 1830); Earl of Carnarvon, Archaeology of Berkshire (London, 1859); C. King, History of Berkshire (London, 1887); Lowsley, Glossary of Berkshire Words (London, 1888), and Index to Wills in the Court of the Archdeacon of Berkshire, 1508-1652 (Oxford, 1893); Victoria County History, Berkshire. See also The Berks Archaeological Society’s Quarterly Journal, and Berkshire Notes and Queries.
BÊRLAD, the capital of the department of Tutova, Rumania, on the river Bêrlad, which waters the high plains of Eastern Moldavia. Pop. (1900) 24,484, about one-fourth of whom are Jews. At Bêrlad the railway from Jassy diverges, one branch skirting the river Sereth, the other skirting the Pruth; both reunite at Galatz. Among a maze of narrow and winding streets Bêrlad possesses a few good modern buildings, including a fine hospital, administered by the St Spiridion Foundation of Jassy. Bêrlad has manufactures of soap and candles, and some trade in timber and farm-produce, while the annual horse-fairs are visited by dealers from all parts of the country. In the vicinity are traces of a Roman camp.
BERLICHINGEN, GOETZ or Gottfried VON (1480-1562), German knight, was born at the castle of Jagsthausen now in Württemberg. In 1497 he entered the service of Frederick IV., margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach, and in 1498 fought for the emperor Maximilian I. in Burgundy, Lorraine and Brabant, and next year in Switzerland. About 1500 he raised a company of freelances, and at their head took part in various private wars. In 1505, whilst assisting Albert IV., duke of Bavaria, at the siege of Landshut, his right hand was shot away, and an iron one was substituted which is still shown at Jagsthausen. In spite of this “Goetz with the iron hand” continued his feuds, their motive being mainly booty and ransom. In 1512 an attack near Forchheim on some merchants returning from the great fair at Leipzig, caused him to be put under the ban of the empire by Maximilian, and he was only released from this in 1514 upon a promise to pay 14,000 gulden. In 1516 he made a raid into Hesse and captured Philip IV., count of Waldeck, whom he compelled to pay a ransom of 8400 gold gulden, and in 1518 was again placed under the ban. He fought for Ulrich I., duke of Württemberg, when he was attacked by the Swabian League in 1519, and after a spirited resistance was compelled, through want of ammunition and provisions, to surrender the town of Möckmuhl. In violation of the terms of the capitulation he was held prisoner, and handed over to the citizens of Heilbronn, but owing to the efforts of Sickingen and Georg von Frundsberg was released in 1522, upon paying 2000 gulden, and swearing not to take vengeance on the League. When the Peasants’ War broke out in 1525 Goetz was compelled by the rebels of the Odenwald district to act as their leader. He accepted the position, according to his own account, partly because he had no choice, partly in the hope of curbing the excesses of the insurgents; but, finding himself in this respect powerless, after a month of nominal leadership, he took the first opportunity of escaping to his castle. For his part in the rebellion he was called to account before the diet of Speier, and on the 17th of October 1526 was acquitted by the imperial chamber. In spite of this the Swabian League seized the opportunity of paying off old scores against him. Lured to Augsburg, under promise of safe conduct, to clear himself of the charges made against him on behalf of the League, he was there treacherously seized on the 28th of November 1528, and kept a close prisoner for two years. In 1530 he was liberated on repeating his oath of 1522, and undertaking not to leave the neighbourhood of his castle of Hornberg on the Neckar. He appears to have remained there quietly until 1540 when the emperor Charles V. released him from his oath. In 1542 he fought against the Turks in Hungary, and in 1544 accompanied Charles when he invaded France. He returned to Hornberg, where he passed his time until his death on the 23rd of July 1562. He was twice married and left three daughters and seven